We are divesting from fossil fuels, say 72 religious investors


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As THE nations gather in Glasgow for the start of COP26 on Sunday, 72 faith-based institutions, including 37 from the UK, announced their divestment from fossil fuels.

It is the largest joint divestment announcement ever made by religious organizations and represents more than $ 4.2 billion in financial assets. Participating organizations are located in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia.

They include the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Dioceses of Truro and Sodor & Man, the Methodist Church Central Financial Board, the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland and 15 dioceses. Catholics in the UK and Ireland. , including the Archdioceses of Glasgow, St Andrews & Edinburgh, Birmingham and Southwark.

Green Anglicans Environmental Coordinator Pastor Rachel Mash said: “In the face of environmental devastation, pollution of precious water sources and abuse of land rights caused by fossil fuel companies, it’s easy for those on the front lines. of climate change to feel overwhelmed by the power of these companies. When we hear faith communities withdrawing their money from these businesses, it rekindles the hope that we are not alone. “

The Anglican Bishop of Namibia, the Right Reverend Luke Pato, said: “We are the stewards of the land for generations to come. Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara, and our groundwater is the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren. We cannot risk drilling operations that pollute precious water sources, violate indigenous rights and threaten the Okavango Delta heritage site.

James Buchanan, Bright Now campaign manager at Operation Noah, said he hoped the move would put pressure on the government to act: “As the UK prepares to host COP26, we are delighted that 37 UK religious institutions have decided to pull out of fossil fuel businesses and join this record global divestment announcement. We call on the UK and global governments to end fossil fuel subsidies and put an immediate end to new oil and gas exploration, including the Cambo oil field near the Shetlands. “

Europe’s largest pension fund ABP is also joining the divestment movement, which said on Tuesday it would sell its € 15 billion in fossil fuel stocks. This is a departure from its previous strategy of engaging with fossil fuel companies, an approach similar to that adopted by Church commissioners.

Corien Wortmann, who chairs ABP, said: “We are separating from our investments in fossil fuel producers because we do not see enough opportunities for us as a shareholder to push for the necessary acceleration. significant impact of the energy transition in these companies. “

In a statement ahead of the summit, Church commissioners said they continue to engage with high-carbon companies on the need for a “just transition,” so that as the world moved away from fossil fuels, those used in pollution industries were born.

Newcastle CathedralDisplay in Newcastle Cathedral, part of its ‘River of Prayer’ for COP26

Senior Engagement Analyst for Church Commissioners for England Olga Hancock said: “Church Commissioners focus on the environmental and social impacts of climate change. people and communities to ensure a just transition.

The coming of COP26 to Glasgow was marked 400 miles away in London with a vigil held at Southwark Cathedral. The Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, and the Archdeacon of Croydon, Ven. Dr Rosemarie Mallett, walked from Croydon with clergy and congregations to Southwark Cathedral as part of the vigil.

Bishop Clark said: “As we make our pilgrimage from Croydon to Southwark Cathedral, I will reflect on the importance of repairing and rebuilding, replanting and cultivating, rather than continuing to plunder the world’s resources. , human and environmental. “

Upstream, the messages on climate action were projected on the side of the Houses of Parliament. They called on the Prime Minister to ensure that COP26 limits global heating to less than 1.5 ° C and ends support for fossil fuel projects; and that rich countries have kept their pledge to provide $ 100 billion in climate finance to poor countries.

The stunt was organized by aid agencies CAFOD, Christian Aid, World Vision, SCIAF, Tearfund and the Faith for the Climate network. The Bishop of Reading, The Right Reverend Olivia Graham, said: “The climate crisis is highlighting global inequalities. Leaders in richer countries must commit additional large-scale financing to compensate for the loss and damage suffered, but not caused, by the poor in poor countries. It is time for us to take our responsibilities.

Retired priest Reverend Tim Hewes, 71, glued to the offices of News UK, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, on Tuesday. Mr Hewes was returning to the scene of a protest he held last month when he sewed his lips to highlight Mr Murdoch’s use of his posts to promote climate change skepticism and influence climate policy (News, June 4).

Mr Hewes said: “I hope that by drawing attention to this, the Prime Minister will give up Rupert Murdoch and take drastic and dramatic action to install solar panels on new houses, insulate social housing, cancel the gas field and the coal mine, to break free from Murdoch’s suffocating grip on him. I hope News UK employees will pressure the company to attempt a repair and defend the transition a carbon economy. ”

The call to action on climate change is also launched in cathedrals across the country, whose bells will ring for 30 minutes this Saturday on the eve of the summit. Newcastle Cathedral has a “river of prayer”, inspired by Amos 5.24: “Let righteousness roll like a river, righteousness like a stream that never fails.

Diocese of Sodor & ManArtwork by Ian Coulson, artist and former art teacher, in St German’s Cathedral, Peel, Isle of Man, coinciding with a tree-planting day

On the Isle of Man, Peel Cathedral will lead the tree planting in the cemetery; Chester Cathedral to mark start of climate conference with unveiling of To treat, an art installation to raise awareness of environmental sustainability.

In Lichfield, prayers will be said in the cathedral each day of COP26, and a dedicated prayer space will be set up for people to light candles and pray for those gathering in Glasgow. Today at 4:15 p.m., the Diocese of Europe will host an online ‘Caring for our Climate’ event, as part of its commitment to the Fifth Anglican Mission Mark.

In Glasgow and London, mass marches are scheduled for November 6, Saturday midway through the two-week summit. Among them will be the Quakers, who will join the faith and belief section of the walk.

Glasgow walkers are invited to gather at the Stewart Memorial Fountain in Kelvingrove Park at 11:30 am; the faith and belief section in London will meet outside St Michael’s, Cornhill at noon. Both marches will end with rallies from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., on Glasgow Green and Trafalgar Square.

The head of the economics and sustainability program for Quakers in Britain, Olivia Hanks, said: “We know that COP26 will not bring climate justice: it is a long struggle. But when we act together, we are powerful and we are part of a mass movement that will not be defeated. “

Legislation. The Environmental Bill has completed its passage by the House of Lords, writes Tim Wyatt. Although peers successfully renewed their pressure on MPs this week to tighten the rules on water companies dumping sewage into UK waters following storm overflows, a series of other amendments by Lords – on issues ranging from measuring soil health to goals for improving air quality – were dismissed.

On Tuesday, the Lords voted not to reinstate nearly all of their amendments, raising the possibility of the bill becoming law before the end of the Glasgow climate summit.


Joe Ware is a senior climate reporter for Christian Aid.

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